From the earliest days of the pandemic, Dominion Energy took swift and comprehensive action to protect the health and safety of our customers, our communities, and our employees, while continuing to focus on our core mission of delivering clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy around the clock.
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What you should know
As soon as the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was identified, we began preparing our response.
We suspended service disconnections and took other steps to ease economic distress among our customers.
We enacted extensive measures to protect our employees’ health and expanded employee benefits to help workers cope with disruption.
While infections from the novel coronavirus did not reach the U.S. until 2020, the effects of the pandemic were so profound, and the required countermeasures so extensive, that waiting to detail Dominion Energy’s response until next year’s sustainability report seemed ill-advised. We have therefore provided the following summary.
“Companies like Micron, Home Depot, and Dominion Energy have donated tens of thousands of PPE — and to those folks, I say thank you.”
From the start, our company took strong measures to protect our employees, our customers, and the communities in which we operate. We:
- Updated and tested our pandemic and business-continuity plans;
- Provided extra cleaning and disinfecting supplies to all our facilities;
- Established contracts and supplies to “fog” all facilities with presumed-positive employee or contractor exposure within 24 hours;
- Contracted with medical partners to provide proactive COVID-19 testing for our employees;
- Reminded employees constantly about simple hygiene habits to prevent the spread of all viruses;
- Provided Dominion Energy branded masks, neck gaiters, and no-touch tools for employees’ protection;
- Limited outside visitors to our facilities;
- Required vendors and contractors to complete health assessments before entering our facilities;
- Restricted travel; and
- Required those who had traveled abroad to notify the company.
Customers and Communities
As soon as the gravity of the situation became apparent, we took the following steps to help our customers and communities:
- Suspended disconnections for non-payment during the emergency and reconnected customers previously disconnected due to non-payment (as of July 25, 2020, Dominion Energy had refrained from disconnecting more than 155,000 customers and reconnected almost 2,000 residential customers);
- Waived late fees;
- Encouraged contact with our customer-service centers;
- Shared conservation tips to help save on energy costs while working from home;
- Encouraged customers facing financial difficulties to contact us so we could provide assistance on a case-by-case basis;
- Made N95 masks available to help critical-care providers in the areas where we do business;
- Procured over 65 percent of personal protective equipment from small, local, and diverse suppliers;
- Donated more than $1 million to help nonprofit organizations provide coronavirus relief efforts; and
- Worked with state and federal agencies and our largest customers to help identify temporary medical facilities, if such facilities are needed.
Throughout, we continued to focus on our core mission of delivering safe, reliable energy around the clock, no matter what obstacles might arise. In the midst of the pandemic, nature also pummeled some communities we serve in other ways. In mid-March, the largest earthquake in three decades struck the Salt Lake City area in Utah, leading to a 20-fold increase in service calls. Our employees responded quickly and worked tirelessly to ensure continued service. Despite the magnitude of the earthquake, surveys found zero material gas leaks.
In mid-April, powerful tornadoes ripped through South Carolina. It was the most prolific day of tornado activity in four decades, and included the most powerful tornado since 1995. At least nine people were killed, and 72,000 customers in our service area lost power. Despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, Dominion Energy South Carolina restored power to 94 percent of customers within 24 hours and 100 percent of customers within 60 hours.
Many of our employees also undertook their own efforts to ease the burden of the pandemic. For example, Sarah Peyton, a supervisor at our North Anna Power Station who enjoys photography, helped students from Louisa County High School in Virginia preserve memories of their pared-down graduation ceremony. Health coach Leesa Stout sewed masks for Lexington Medical Center in South Carolina. Dina Qureshi, an engineer in Ashburn, Virginia, learned to sew so she could make masks for local health care workers. And many other employees joined a company-led effort to make masks as well.
Protecting and Helping Employees
Starting March 16, 2020 — before any states’ stay-at-home directives took effect — Dominion Energy required all employees who could work from home to do so and ensured that all such employees had the necessary technology and connectivity. Around the same time, we also:
- Established frequent communications with employees through multiple media;
- Provided an additional 80 hours of paid leave to all employees who needed additional time for health or child-care reasons related to the pandemic;
- Approved policies to protect employees who had to enter customers’ homes;
- Established a relief fund to help employees and interns with extraordinary costs stemming from natural disasters, including pandemics;
- Cancelled our annual “Family Fun Days” event and redirected a portion of the money set aside for the event to the relief fund;
- Provided free telemedicine service under the health plan for consultation with a doctor from any location — helping to avoid overburdening the health care system;
- Offered full coverage for all coronavirus testing costs under the Dominion Energy health plan;
- Made possible virtual professional development opportunities and volunteer opportunities, both internal and external, within social distancing guidelines;
- Greatly expanded online learning options;
- Established a virtual-internship program to maintain our commitment to 2020 interns and ensure the continuity of our workforce development plan of attracting and developing talent;
- Rolled out a “Flexible Leader Toolkit” containing training resources for leaders on how to lead virtually; and
- Granted employees whose personal needs made full-time work difficult the ability to convert to part-time status or take extended leave without pay — with benefits — for up to 90 days with the peace of mind that their jobs would be secure upon their return.
Throughout the pandemic we kept critical operations running and continued to provide clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy to our customers. We also learned valuable lessons and gained useful experience in crisis management, which should make our response to future emergencies even more nimble and effective.